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Mariel Zagunis Wins Silver at New York Saber World Cup

06/26/2011, 9:29am CDT
By No Author

(New York City, N.Y.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) won her first World Cup medal of the Olympic qualifying season on Saturday as she took silver at the New York Saber World Cup.

Zagunis was one of four U.S. athletes who placed in the top 16 at the New York Athletic Club.

Zagunis’s teammates Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) finished seventh and 12th, respectively.

On the men’s side, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.) finished 13th – his best results on the World Cup circuit since March.

Zagunis opened with a 15-7 win against Seira Nakayama (JPN) and a 15-11 victory over Alina Komashuk (UKR) to advance to the table of 16.

Two more wins over Galyna Pundyk (UKR), 15-11, and Anna Limbach (GER), 15-12, moved Zagunis into the evening semifinal block as the only U.S. fencer in the medal rounds.

After having several close bouts earlier in the day, Zagunis fenced well from the start against 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL). The two exchanged touches early in the bout, but, by the break, Zagunis had pulled ahead with an 8-4 lead – a margin she would build on in the second half until Zagunis won the bout, 15-8.

“Jozwiak’s a strong fencer and to win 15-8 in the semis in front of a crowd is always great," Zagunis said.

Fencing for gold in front of a packed house, however, two-time Senior World medalist Sophia Velikaia (RUS) took an earlier lead in the final, 7-1, and Zagunis was never able to make up the ground as she lost the bout, 15-6.

"I shouldn’t have gone so fast. I should have slowed down the bout and thought more during the finals,” Zagunis said. “She was getting a lot of easy touches that I was just giving to her instead of slowing down and really thinking about it and changing the pace. But that’s how it is. Fencing goes fast and it’s tough mentally and I just wasn’t quite there.”

The silver medal is the fourth international podium finish for Zagunis since winning her second World Championship gold in November, but her first since placing second at the Moscow Grand Prix in March.

"Overall, I was very pleased with how I fenced today, other than that last bout. I fenced better than I have all season, so it felt good to be back in the swing of things,” she said. "It’s nice to be able to compete at a World Cup in the U.S. I still had to travel to get here because I came from the West Coast, but it’s great to be in a familiar area with familiar faces and have a little bit of that home field advantage.”

Zagunis will compete in the team event on Sunday and then return to Portland for a week before fencing in the Pan American Championships, July 4-9 in Reno, Nev.

“It's one of those home field advantage things. I’m looking forward to having a short flight and spending a week in the sun and think it will be a good way to end the season,” Zagunis said.

Ranked #11 in the world, Muhammad found herself just one touch away from advancing to the semifinals and fencing for her first World Cup podium finish.

Muhammad began her day with an opening win against Anja Musch (GER), 15-11, but had a close table of 32 bout against 2009 Senior World Team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) Muhammad took an early lead, 8-4, but Aksamit came back to tie the bout at 12 each. Muhammad returned to form, however, and scored the next three touches to win the bout, 15-12.

In the quarter-finals, Muhammad defeated Ra-Jin Lee (KOR), 15-12, to advance to the quarter-finals against two-time Senior World medalist Olga Kharlan (UKR).

Kharlan entered the match fresh off a heart-breaking win over Wozniak in the table of 16 in which Wozniak scored the final touch to win the bout, 15-13 – her second victory over Kharlan in two weeks after Wozniak won their last bout in Belgium. The touch was reversed, however, and Kharlan received the score to tie the bout at 14. Kharlan scored again to win the bout, 15-14, and move on to fence Muhammad.

This time it was Kharlan who took the lead early and Muhammad trailed by a seemingly insurmountable differential of 12-6. Slowly, Muhammad’s momentum gained with every touch as she clawed her way back into the bout. By the time the score was tied at 14, the crowd had shifted its focus from anything else happening on the other three pistes to watch cheer for Muhammad who was competing just an hour away from home.

Unfortunately, the greatest comeback of the day wasn’t able to be completed and Kharlan scored the last touch to win the bout, 15-14. Kharlan would go on to win the bronze after a 15-14 semifinal loss to Velikaia who also defeated American Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) in the first round, 15-4, leaving Thompson with a 64th place finish.

Emma Baratta (Somerville, N.J.) was one of three athletes to qualify for the table of 32. Baratta finished 20th after a 15-12 win over Lucia Martin-Portugues (ESP) in the table of 64 and a 15-7 loss to Azza Besbes (TUN), the #7 fencer in the world.

Besbes nearly lost her opening bout to 15-year-old Skyla Powers (Atlanta, Ga.) who took a lead at 13-12, but lost the bout, 15-13, to finish 59th.

Two-time Senior World Team member Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) placed 28th overall. After a solid performance in the table of 64 where Schneider defeated Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE), 15-12, she lost in the table of 32 to Anna Limbach (GER), 15-12.

Fifteen-year-old Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) advanced to the table of 64 where she finished 54th after a 15-7 loss against Reka Benko (HUN).

On the men’s side, Morehouse picked up key Olympic qualification points as he advanced to the table of 16 to finish 13th.

Morehouse won his first bout easily against Vincent Couturier (CAN), 15-8, and defeated 12th seed Valery Pryiemka (BLR), 15-9, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Morehouse lost to the eventual bronze medalist – Giampiero Pastore (ITA) – 15-10.

Two of Morehouse’s 2010 Senior World Teammates, Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.) each advanced to the table of 32.

Igoe finished 29th overall after a 15-9 opening win against Alexandre Woog (ISR) and a 15-12 loss to 2010 Senior World Champion Woo-Young Won (KOR).

Although Homer is ranked #18 in the world, a 3-3 result in the pools on Friday meant that he found himself fencing Aldo Montano (ITA), the 2004 Olympic Champion, in the first round on Friday. Homer came from behind to earn the 15-14 win in front of family in friends, but dropped his next bout to Pastore, 15-11, and finished 32nd.  

Three remaining U.S. Men’s Team members lost opening bouts in the table of 64.

Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) finished 41st after an opening loss to Wei He (CHN), 15-7.

Mihail Etropolski (Floral Park, N.Y.) fell to Gelu Florin Zaomir (ROU), 15-6, and finished 45th.

Avery Zuck (Portland, Ore.) lost to 2009 Senior World Champion Nicolas Limbach (GER), 15-4, to finish 64th.

Competition at the New York Saber World Cup will continue on Sunday with the men’s and women’s team events. The women’s table of 32 begins at 8:20 a.m. The men will begin competing at 12:30 p.m. Gold medal bouts will begin at 7:45 p.m.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who placed outside the 64 on Friday:

New York Saber Men’s Individual World Cup
1. Alexey Yakimenko (RUS)
2. Nicolas Limbach (GER)
3. Giampiero Pastore (ITA)
3. Bon-Gil Gu (KOR)
5. Rares Dumitrescu (ROU)
6. Bolade Apithy (FRA)
7. Gelu Florin Zalomir (ROU)
8. Nicolas Rousset (FRA)

13. Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
29. Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
32. Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.)
41. Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)
45. Mihail Etropolski (Floral Park, N.Y.)
64. Avery Zuck (Portland, Ore.)
74. James Williams (New York City, N.Y.)
76. Sean Buckley (Secaucus, N.J.)
86. Aleksander Ochocki (Clark, N.J.)
88. Andrew Fischl (Huntington, N.Y.)
84. Daniel Bak (Franklin Lakes, N.J.)
101. Eric Arzoian (Beverly Hills, Calif.)
111. Steven Yang (Princeton Junction, N.J.)
113. Will Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)
117. Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.)
119. Evan Prochniak (Hudson, N.H.)
121. Adrian Bak (Franklin Lakes, N.J.)
124. Jason Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
127. Reinzi Gokea (New York City, N.Y.)
128. Denis Dukhavlov (Salisbury Mills, N.J.)
130. Adam Mandel (White Plains, N.Y.)
133. John Hallsten (Sacramento, Calif.)
139. Daniel Kim (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)
143. Isaac Buchwald (El Granada, Calif.)
144. Charles Copti (Wyckoff, N.J.)
145. Zackery Brown (Watchung, N.J.)
149. Luther Clement (New York City, N.Y.)
151. Teddy Weller (Barrington, R.I.)
153. Alexander Ryjik (Alexandria, Va.)
157. Allen Schneider (Fayetteville, Ga.)
160. Peter Pak (Roslyn, N.Y.)
166. Adam Austin (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
168. Brad Baker (Pennsauken, N.J.)
178. Kaito Streets (Redwood City, Calif.)

New York Saber Women’s Individual World Cup
1. Sophia Velikaia (RUS)
2. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Bogna Jozwiak (POL)
3. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
5. Ekaterina Diatchenko (RUS)
6. Olena Khomrova (UKR)
7. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
8. Anna Limbach (GER)

12. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
20. Emma Baratta (Somerville, N.J.)
28. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)

29. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
54. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
59. Skyla Powers (Atlanta, Ga.)
64. Kamali Thompson (Tea Neck, N.J.)
69. Alisha Gomez (Wayne, N.J.)
76. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
84. Tiki Kastor (New York City, N.Y.)
91. Claudia Kulmacz (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)
94. Samantha Roberts (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)
104. Erica Zhao (Plano, Texas)
108. Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.)
109. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
112. Nicole Glon (State College, Pa.)
114. Stella Shifrin (Brooklyn, N.J.)
118. Margaret McDonald (Atlanta, Ga.)
120. Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
124. Hareem Ahmad (New York City, N.Y.)
126. Aziza Hassan (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
133. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
135. Aleksandra Sakowicz (Linden, N.J.)
136. Sarah Gruman (Hermosa Beach, Calif.)
137. Anastasia Pinseschi (Los Angeles, Calif.)
140. Lauren Phillips (Livingston, N.J.)
142. Laura Decker (Bridgewater, N.J.)
145. Annabel Sharahy (Wayne, N.J.)

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